Gordon Murray just hit the reset button on the industry. The current trend of sports cars and supercars is going in a heavier, more complex and more powerful direction, entirely focused on one-upping each other in performance numbers and bragging rights. However, Murray’s new GMA T.50 has bucked all of those trends, reset the way we look at performance cars and went back to the basics of driving.
Yesterday, we talked about the GMA T.50 and how incredible its engineering is and it is absolutely incredible. In fact, the T.50 is so beautifully and ingeniously engineered that it makes anything from BMW, AMG or Porsche seem like crude lumps of metal. Though, the T.50 does cost about $2.5 million and is hand built, so nothing is going to compare to that. However, it’s not necessarily the engineering quality that makes the T.50 so special.
When you actually take a look at the T.50 and listen to Murray talk about every aspect of it, you realize that sports cars don’t have to be as heavy, numb or as isolating as they are today. Murray was able to create a beautifully-shaped, simplistic looking machine that has double the downforce some modern sports cars have while using none of the obnoxious-looking splitters or wings they have.
Sure, it takes a bit more of an investment into aerodynamic R&D but it’s certainly doable, especially when you consider the amount of money that brands like BMW, VW and Mercedes-Benz have. BMW constantly brags about being the most profitable premium brand, so why doesn’t it use more of those profits making its cars better? You’ve got the money, BMW, why don’t you use it?
Murray also engineered the GMA T.50 to be the most engaging and enjoyable car to actually drive on the road, which he felt was more important than anything else. Here’s the difference between Murray’s thinking and BMWs or Porsches or whomever else; the T.50 has double the luggage space of the F1, more passenger room than the F1 and a softer suspension setup than any modern supercar.
When you look at other brands’ best driving cars, they’re always designed to be as stripped out as possible, losing luggage space, losing interior creature comforts and becoming less usable on an everyday basis. Just take a look at the BMW M4 CS, the Porsche 911 GT3 or the AMG GT Black Series. Those are supposed to be the best driving versions of those brands’ best driving cars. Why is their thinking opposite of Murray’s? He explicitly says that among the design requirements for the T.50 were good luggage space (which needed to be easily accessible), a comfortable cabin and a comfortable enough ride to use everyday. His term for the car is “Hyper GT”.
The idea is that it’s supposed to get absolutely every about driving a sports car perfect; throttle response, power delivery, manual gear-change, control weights, visibility, seating position and, most importantly, driver feel. However, it’s also supposed to not only be livable everyday but comfortable. You’re supposed to want to get in it just to run to a store quick because you ran out of milk. You’re also supposed to want to take it on a 300-mile road trip. It’s designed to be the best driving car on the planet, full stop.
Of course, Murray has far more freedom to create such a car than other car companies. Murray is only selling 100 T.50s and they’re basically already sold. So it’s not as if he has sales targets to meet, he’s not doing customer surveys or research on what drives customers to buy cars. The T.50 isn’t a mass market car.
However, what Murray’s done with the GMA T.50 is remind us all what a proper driver’s car is supposed to be. We all want cars to be lighter, more engaging and more enjoyable and we all bitch about it constantly. But Murray didn’t just bitch and moan, he went and built what he wanted. Once the GMA T.50 hits the road, it’s going to remind us all that lightweight sports cars can be both engaging and comfortable, pure but also usable everyday. Focus on what makes a great driver’s car on the road, in real life, not about what makes a great driver’s car on track or on spreadsheets.
To this day, Murray doesn’t know the 0-60 mph time of the McLaren F1, nor does he know what the 0-60 mph time is on the GMA T.50. In fact, he flat-out doesn’t care. He makes a great point; it’s lighter than a Mazda MX-5 but has the power of a McLaren 720S — it’s going to be fast. What matters more is the sensation of that speed.
That sort of thinking is (hopefully) going to be contagious and drive not only customers to want more cars like the T.50 but car companies to start building them. What makes his vision for a car so brilliant is that it’s not compromised in its usability, so it can be translated into cars we drive everyday. Just take his infotainment system in the car, for example; it essentially just uses wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so all of its systems are based off of your smart phone, which means the T.50’s infotainment system never ages. Get into even a five year old BMW and use its iDrive and you’ll immediately realize how brilliant that is.
Honestly, there’s too much incredible detail to list here. I’ll post a video about it below, which allows Murray himself to explain all of the engineering packed into the car. After watching the video, the GMA T.50 is the most impressive engineered car I’ve ever seen. For someone like me, that wishes they were smart enough to be an engineer, this video is a 50-minute dopamine dump.
In the GMA T.50, Murray has focused on its driver’s and its passengers’ happiness. If more customers demand cars like the T.50, more companies will build then. Obviously, cars like the 5 Series and X5 still need to exist, cars that are numb and cosseting and luxurious. However, that doesn’t mean that brands like BMW can’t also make cars like the T.50, just on a less expensive scale. Murray has reset our thinking, back to the basics of driving, so let’s hope that translates to the auto industry as well.